“ECHO HEAD” | Stand still, you. Stand still and subscribe to the conspiracy of heat and quiet that slide up to nuzzle at your neck. Stand still and breathe. Stand still as thoughts escape through crude mind tunnels until you find yourself alone in the expanse of your skull, defenseless to an endless sky. Now listen. There, the far-off bleat of a sheep. Here, the throaty gargle of a bird on a power line competing with the crackle of insects in tall grass. Sound. Space. Time. It’s said some people are afraid to be alone. Not me. I am my best friend.
“ECHO HEAD” | Stand still, you. Stand still and subscribe to the conspiracy of heat and quiet that slide up to nuzzle at your neck. Stand still and breathe. Stand still as thoughts escape through crude mind tunnels until you find yourself alone in the expanse of your skull, defenseless to an endless sky. Now listen. There, the far-off bleat of a sheep. Here, the throaty gargle of a bird on a power line competing with the crackle of insects in tall grass. Sound. Space. Time. It’s said some people are afraid to be alone. Not me. I am my best friend.
“MAGPIE” | The smell of grease, mixed with dirt and oil and fuel and grain. Ancient wooden drawers, filled with washers and screws and nails and odd parts. Bags and tools and spanners. Lathes and broken machinery and hand jacks and sumps. Tins and wire and canisters with old contents crossed out and new contents written on in my father’s hand. Look around. This trait—of collecting and storing and organizing for the ‘might need that one day’ day that may never come is your inherited familial trait. Some people call themselves Cultural Anthropologists. Not me. I am a Life Homageologist.
“MAGPIE” | The smell of grease, mixed with dirt and oil and fuel and grain. Ancient wooden drawers, filled with washers and screws and nails and odd parts. Bags and tools and spanners. Lathes and broken machinery and hand jacks and sumps. Tins and wire and canisters with old contents crossed out and new contents written on in my father’s hand. Look around. This trait—of collecting and storing and organizing for the ‘might need that one day’ day that may never come is your inherited familial trait. Some people call themselves Cultural Anthropologists. Not me. I am a Life Homageologist.
“PALACE” | Build it and ideas will come. My Dad has built shearing sheds, hay sheds, tool sheds, and more, but it’s the humble work shed—that little incubator of passion projects and a place to think—that stands as the brain outside the brain. This is where things come to bright, hot life, or slink away to dark corners and die. A thought dump space. A blank stare into the air space. A palace for your mind to stroll around saying ‘this is my space’. Some people need physical locations for the thoughts to come. Me? All the world is my shed. Now if I could just close the door, I could write them down.
“PALACE” | Build it and ideas will come. My Dad has built shearing sheds, hay sheds, tool sheds, and more, but it’s the humble work shed—that little incubator of passion projects and a place to think—that stands as the brain outside the brain. This is where things come to bright, hot life, or slink away to dark corners and die. A thought dump space. A blank stare into the air space. A palace for your mind to stroll around saying ‘this is my space’. Some people need physical locations for the thoughts to come. Me? All the world is my shed. Now if I could just close the door, I could write them down.
“THE WATCHER” | A house, so much like you. The front porch, a street facing stage for calm sunset beers and low-tone conversations in full view of the world. From this secret watchtower you survey the universe with continuous perimeter sweeps, noting curious oddities and attaching invisible notes to invisible pigeons for invisible homing purposes. And here—the back step. The ‘sit here and eat your watermelon’ in high summer step. This is the let down your guard, look inside your head step. Because of your silence, people often ask if you’re having a good time. Me? I am having the time of my life.
“THE WATCHER” | A house, so much like you. The front porch, a street facing stage for calm sunset beers and low-tone conversations in full view of the world. From this secret watchtower you survey the universe with continuous perimeter sweeps, noting curious oddities and attaching invisible notes to invisible pigeons for invisible homing purposes. And here—the back step. The ‘sit here and eat your watermelon’ in high summer step. This is the let down your guard, look inside your head step. Because of your silence, people often ask if you’re having a good time. Me? I am having the time of my life.
“IMPERIAL WALKER” | Slowly, methodically, you meander down the dusty road after dinner knowing the time is soon. Here it comes. The sun smirks its sly smirk and then BOOM! hits its mark. The sky warms and light becomes a golden honey oozing on earth toast. “Ain’t I pretty?” Sol says, dipping shyly behind trees and out again. Rocks take on magical hues, grass is whisper sexy and warm, and rusty farm equipment looks positively radiant. Some people think the world is an ugly place. I like to think that at least once a day, in the right light, everything looks good.
“IMPERIAL WALKER” | Slowly, methodically, you meander down the dusty road after dinner knowing the time is soon. Here it comes. The sun smirks its sly smirk and then BOOM! hits its mark. The sky warms and light becomes a golden honey oozing on earth toast. “Ain’t I pretty?” Sol says, dipping shyly behind trees and out again. Rocks take on magical hues, grass is whisper sexy and warm, and rusty farm equipment looks positively radiant. Some people think the world is an ugly place. I like to think that at least once a day, in the right light, everything looks good.
“HOIST” | The fridge, Black Box flight recorder, Stump-jump plough, and box wine. You cannot escape primary school without having these Australian inventions practically injected into your brain with a disposable plastic syringe (which whaddya know, we also invented). But of all examples of Australian ingenuity, there is nothing that provides more leg-swinging pleasure than the rotary clothesline. The joy of summer holidays spent swinging and spinning around on its delicate metal arms until Nan yells out the kitchen window to “get off that!” Some people invent things that change lives. Me? I am forever the creator of my own happiness.
“HOIST” | The fridge, Black Box flight recorder, Stump-jump plough, and box wine. You cannot escape primary school without having these Australian inventions practically injected into your brain with a disposable plastic syringe (which whaddya know, we also invented). But of all examples of Australian ingenuity, there is nothing that provides more leg-swinging pleasure than the rotary clothesline. The joy of summer holidays spent swinging and spinning around on its delicate metal arms until Nan yells out the kitchen window to “get off that!” Some people invent things that change lives. Me? I am forever the creator of my own happiness.
“ANON” | Stand there in front of that mirror, stripped of all your clothes and makeup and masks. Stand there naked and you might think all you have left is your name. Some people get teased about their names. Some have songs written about them. Some change them altogether, both first and last. This name, too masculine, that one, too feminine. Too ethnic, too common, too exotic, too plain. Names mean nothing. She calls me Pamela every day, even though it’s her sister’s name and she knows it’s not mine. I honestly don’t care what she calls me. She knows I am her daughter and that’s enough. Some people cling to their names like they are life rafts to their identity. Me? I am much more than my name. Let’s just call each other Love from now on.
“ANON” | Stand there in front of that mirror, stripped of all your clothes and makeup and masks. Stand there naked and you might think all you have left is your name. Some people get teased about their names. Some have songs written about them. Some change them altogether, both first and last. This name, too masculine, that one, too feminine. Too ethnic, too common, too exotic, too plain. Names mean nothing. She calls me Pamela every day, even though it’s her sister’s name and she knows it’s not mine. I honestly don’t care what she calls me. She knows I am her daughter and that’s enough. Some people cling to their names like they are life rafts to their identity. Me? I am much more than my name. Let’s just call each other Love from now on.
“SWAT” | The minute you step outside, they are on you. An avalanche of tiny, black bodies buzzing in to critique your face and eyes and ears and nose with close, hands-on attention. Their incessant tag-you’re-it sets off an internal proximity alarm, transforming you into an agitated washing machine of arms and swishing hair, leg kicks and hat swats. Bloody flies. Docile yet savage, they carry on leaving comment after comment after comment, egging each other on. They pogo-bomb your back, landing briefly only to launch immediately, over and over and over and again. First. First. First. It is relentless. Don’t read the comments, they say. I say: Swatters gonna swat.
“SWAT” | The minute you step outside, they are on you. An avalanche of tiny, black bodies buzzing in to critique your face and eyes and ears and nose with close, hands-on attention. Their incessant tag-you’re-it sets off an internal proximity alarm, transforming you into an agitated washing machine of arms and swishing hair, leg kicks and hat swats. Bloody flies. Docile yet savage, they carry on leaving comment after comment after comment, egging each other on. They pogo-bomb your back, landing briefly only to launch immediately, over and over and over and again. First. First. First. It is relentless. Don’t read the comments, they say. I say: Swatters gonna swat.
“SCRATCH” | There is steel-eyed focus on the ground in front. A scratch, a head cock to the side, a peck. A scratch a suspicious cluck. A two strut move forward and do it again. And yet and yet. Beady side eye, watching me, watching everything before head-swiveling back to ‘oh, what’s that?’ Periscope peck. Scratch. ‘Oh, what’s that?’ They peck at ants, lettuce, and grain. They flip rocks over like cars at an unspecified riot. They surge forward, searching. Relentless. Chickens are noble, heroic, armless geniuses.* Some people call cowards chicken. I say: I am chicken, hear me cluck! (That’ll keep you occupied as I retreat to higher ground to suss out your motives.) *Except for that rooster. 4am is a stupid time to crow.
“SCRATCH” | There is steel-eyed focus on the ground in front. A scratch, a head cock to the side, a peck. A scratch a suspicious cluck. A two strut move forward and do it again. And yet and yet. Beady side eye, watching me, watching everything before head-swiveling back to ‘oh, what’s that?’ Periscope peck. Scratch. ‘Oh, what’s that?’ They peck at ants, lettuce, and grain. They flip rocks over like cars at an unspecified riot. They surge forward, searching. Relentless. Chickens are noble, heroic, armless geniuses.* Some people call cowards chicken. I say: I am chicken, hear me cluck! (That’ll keep you occupied as I retreat to higher ground to suss out your motives.) *Except for that rooster. 4am is a stupid time to crow.
“FIRMAMENT” | 3am and you step down to the dewy lawn and take a few steps. You stop. Moonlight has lit the spirit fuse of everything in the yard, making even the humble tool shed appear sated and content. You smile and tilt your head to the sky, relishing the cool texture of the grass underfoot and the breath of night air around your bare legs. Above you, a black canvas littered with pinpricks of light. You imagine an invisible hand, with glitter-loaded palm, slapping itself down on a black night table to slide a swathe of stars from one edge to the other. Replenished, you go back to bed. At times, all of us collide through our days, heads drooping, eyes glued to faux-life screens. I am reminding myself to look up from time to time.
“FIRMAMENT” | 3am and you step down to the dewy lawn and take a few steps. You stop. Moonlight has lit the spirit fuse of everything in the yard, making even the humble tool shed appear sated and content. You smile and tilt your head to the sky, relishing the cool texture of the grass underfoot and the breath of night air around your bare legs. Above you, a black canvas littered with pinpricks of light. You imagine an invisible hand, with glitter-loaded palm, slapping itself down on a black night table to slide a swathe of stars from one edge to the other. Replenished, you go back to bed. At times, all of us collide through our days, heads drooping, eyes glued to faux-life screens. I am reminding myself to look up from time to time.
“SIBLING” | Once a year—just once—and yet each visit feels as though time has stood still. Our traitorous, aging bodies are clock-blind, however, and betray our bravado broadcasting our imperfections to the world. The hard-etched smile lines, the eyes that now need glasses to read wine labels. But every year we meet it is as though the clock has stopped in our minds and we are forever 15 and 12, yelling at each other one minute and conspiring the next. The hours, minutes, and seconds of a childhood spent together are unaffected by an adulthood spent apart. They say that time marches on. I say time is just an interpretive dance wearing a fairly raucous Hawaiian shirt.
“SIBLING” | Once a year—just once—and yet each visit feels as though time has stood still. Our traitorous, aging bodies are clock-blind, however, and betray our bravado broadcasting our imperfections to the world. The hard-etched smile lines, the eyes that now need glasses to read wine labels. But every year we meet it is as though the clock has stopped in our minds and we are forever 15 and 12, yelling at each other one minute and conspiring the next. The hours, minutes, and seconds of a childhood spent together are unaffected by an adulthood spent apart. They say that time marches on. I say time is just an interpretive dance wearing a fairly raucous Hawaiian shirt.
“HARVEST” | You don’t know what you’re doing or how you’re going to do it, you just know you want to do something. Anything. So you stand, self-conscious and weird. 10 seconds. The light pulses slowly. 5 seconds. Faster. An inspired second sees you throw your hand up, pirate style and arrr! look out to sea. Fast pulse followed by the mechanical sound of a shutter. You look at the result. Uber-posed and why would you shield your eyes with a hat on? Your thumb hovers over the delete button. Teachable moment? In your effort to be interesting you lost the truth of it. Your awkwardness and self-consciousness was the story, not this fakery. Some people are waiting for their close-up. Me? I am trying to be me, whatever the distance.
“HARVEST” | You don’t know what you’re doing or how you’re going to do it, you just know you want to do something. Anything. So you stand, self-conscious and weird. 10 seconds. The light pulses slowly. 5 seconds. Faster. An inspired second sees you throw your hand up, pirate style and arrr! look out to sea. Fast pulse followed by the mechanical sound of a shutter. You look at the result. Uber-posed and why would you shield your eyes with a hat on? Your thumb hovers over the delete button. Teachable moment? In your effort to be interesting you lost the truth of it. Your awkwardness and self-consciousness was the story, not this fakery. Some people are waiting for their close-up. Me? I am trying to be me, whatever the distance.
“RITUAL” | The bread must be fresh, bright white, and soft. Toast it until brown—not burned—just a light golden brown color. Spread the butter on while the toast is still hot hot hot. It should melt instantly. Spread it all the way to the edges. Now take a knife and scrape a light layer of the blackest gold across the surface of the toast, being careful to not go too thick in any one place. Slice the toast into two. Take a bite and relish the taste of childhood. Some people think Vegemite tastes like the sole of Satan’s boot. Me? I say like what you like. It just so happens I love this.
“RITUAL” | The bread must be fresh, bright white, and soft. Toast it until brown—not burned—just a light golden brown color. Spread the butter on while the toast is still hot hot hot. It should melt instantly. Spread it all the way to the edges. Now take a knife and scrape a light layer of the blackest gold across the surface of the toast, being careful to not go too thick in any one place. Slice the toast into two. Take a bite and relish the taste of childhood. Some people think Vegemite tastes like the sole of Satan’s boot. Me? I say like what you like. It just so happens I love this.
“ROOTS” | The air is dry. The wind is strong. The trees wave their arms as though drowning. The grass cries out. The sheep creep. The dogs loll quietly in the shade. The hornets are drunk. The flies are manic. The wrens swing their way through the yard. The sheets flap. The sprinkler sputs. The roast fills the kitchen with lust. The bull is lame. The windmill creaks. The drought stamps its feet on the mat. The dust conjures shapes. The ants conduct surveys. The sky flips a switch to disturbed. Some people think farm life must be boring. Me? This is where my imagination was born.
“ROOTS” | The air is dry. The wind is strong. The trees wave their arms as though drowning. The grass cries out. The sheep creep. The dogs loll quietly in the shade. The hornets are drunk. The flies are manic. The wrens swing their way through the yard. The sheets flap. The sprinkler sputs. The roast fills the kitchen with lust. The bull is lame. The windmill creaks. The drought stamps its feet on the mat. The dust conjures shapes. The ants conduct surveys. The sky flips a switch to disturbed. Some people think farm life must be boring. Me? This is where my imagination was born.
“TRAMP” | Bounce out the worry shoulders. Bounce out the coins in your pocket and the jiggle in your arms. Jump high as the sky and true and straight and fling out arms and legs and giggle like an unstoppable maniac. Bounce out that constant sense of doom and of things always ending. Bounce out the weight of a life devoid of things you imagine grownups should achieve. Land from on high and absorb the full power of the trampoline. Load up those legs for the huzzah spring and launch your body to the stars. Accept the high-flung joy and squeal and let the world know of your flight. You are transcendent. You are child-souled. It is your gift to yourself.
“TRAMP” | Bounce out the worry shoulders. Bounce out the coins in your pocket and the jiggle in your arms. Jump high as the sky and true and straight and fling out arms and legs and giggle like an unstoppable maniac. Bounce out that constant sense of doom and of things always ending. Bounce out the weight of a life devoid of things you imagine grownups should achieve. Land from on high and absorb the full power of the trampoline. Load up those legs for the huzzah spring and launch your body to the stars. Accept the high-flung joy and squeal and let the world know of your flight. You are transcendent. You are child-souled. It is your gift to yourself.